NHS Scotland is to introduce a more accurate test for cervical cancer.
Women between the ages of 25 and 64 offered a smear test will in future also be checked for human papilloma virus (HPV) which has been strongly linked to the cancer.
The new test is expected to be available by 2019-20.
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:
"HPV testing as the primary cervical screening method has been shown to have a higher detection rate than the current screening programme.
“This provides a more reliable indicator of women who may be at greater risk of cervical cancer.
“It is positive to see NHS Scotland changing to this more effective test which will reduce incidence of cervical cancer in Scotland and save lives.”
Gregor McNie from Cancer Research UK added:
"It’s a huge step forward that the SNP Government is introducing a first line HPV test to improve cervical screening.
“Testing first for the human papilloma virus will help prevent more cervical cancers, as it can pick up the cancer-causing infection before any abnormalities could develop in the cells.
“The need for improvements to the cervical screening programme was set out in the SNP Government’s cancer strategy published last year, so it’s good to see progress being made.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
"I am pleased that investment from the SNP Government's Cancer Strategy will be used to introduce this new test, which will help ensure the early signs of cervical cancer are identified and treated earlier.”
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35 and incidence has increased 22% over the last decade.
Treatment as a result of screening prevents 8 out of 10 cervical cancers from developing and saves around 500 lives in Scotland every year.